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Snow break comes at a bad time for Mike Richards

(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

A three-day break without practices or games was welcome for some Washington Capitals, especially the ones playing through bumps and bruises. For center Mike Richards, it was frustrating. After Richards went nine months without playing professional hockey following a termination of his contract with the Los Angeles Kings, another break was the last thing he wanted.

“You play games and you kind of get into a little bit of a groove and you just want to keep playing to get your game back to where it is,” Richards said. “Then you get a little bit of a break. I think any time — no matter if you’ve played three games or 46 like these guys have played — you get a break in the season, you’ve got to use it to be beneficial because you don’t know when you’re going to get the next one, other than the all-star break.”

The Capitals will play their first game in more than a week on Wednesday, and then they’ll have the all-star break, meaning Richards and most of his teammates will have only played in one game in 13 days. For a player still trying to catch up to mid-season pace, that’s not ideal, so Richards tried to be active while most Washingtonians stayed in their homes.

For most of the weekend, Richards didn’t leave his hotel room, playing cards with his father, who’s in town. But he knew he needed to work out, so he did some of that at his hotel and he managed to get into the Kettler Capitals Iceplex on Saturday, though he was the only person in the facility.

“It was pretty boring,” Richards said.

Before Richards made his Capitals debut on Jan. 16 at Buffalo, Coach Barry Trotz suggested it was possible Richards could do an American Hockey League conditioning stint during the all-star break, just as a way to help him get some of the game experience he lost when he wasn’t playing the first half of the season.

On Monday, Trotz said he and Richards haven’t discussed that yet, though he didn’t rule that out as an option for Richards, even if it’s just for practices. Richards has only played in three games for Washington so far, all as the team’s fourth-line center.

“I’ll ask him what he wants to do,” Trotz said. “Obviously, I’ll leave it up to him. A different scenario is you could send him down, and it doesn’t mean he has to play. … I’ll ask Mike. He’s a pro, so I’m not too worried about him. I think his dad is here, too, so they might go down golfing or something.”

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